Review: Xiaomi Oculus’ new Virtual Reality Viewer, Xiaomi Mi VR
Mi VR delivers a whole new reality in a 3D universe. One can experience scenes in front of their eyes in a device designed for total comfort
Virtual reality technology is the new dimension in the Entertainment industry. It is also applied in fields like healthcare, military and education. The mention of VR sounds like some distant future but the thing is, we live in an artificial world and it is improving every day. Virtual reality is a fake environment generated with the help of computer technology so as to so as to simulate users to think they are in a real word. It incorporates all the features of the real man eyes to function accurately. One is immersed in the real world and feels some freedom of imagination intended by the maker. You are absorbed into the screen rather than watching it and you experience the arena in 3D. I am not in Russia but with my Xiaomi VR device, I experience matches in the ongoing World Cup as they come, just like any other football fans having the time of their lives in Moscow city right now.
Virtual reality has seen giant players like Google, Sony, Oculus, HTC and Xiaomi. In the wake of this year, Xiaomi together with Facebook’s Oculus jointly created Oculus Go, whose venues let you watch live events as they happen right at the comfort of your sitting room. The headset’s breakthrough was its price which is low at only $199 for a standalone device. Virtual reality devices are turning our fantasies into a reality! A few months later Oculus Go becomes the new Xiaomi VR One. At this pace, we might send a man to the sun very soon.
Here in China today, we have the new Xiaomi VR device with many games installed in it. With Mi VR Play you will discover a new reality by getting yourself immersed in a 3D universe brought to life by the device. It is designed for total comfort and full immersion.
Types of Virtual Reality Viewers
Protocol demands we look at the current types of VR headsets in the market before we can move on with our review. We have three:
- Google Cardboard: This is a VR platform made by Google for use with a head mount of a smartphone. You only need to put your smartphone together with Google cardboard and virtual reality is put in action. The technology derives its name from the fold-out cardboard viewer. Google cardboard is cheap and simple and that enhances interest and development in VR applications. End users build their own viewer from components using specifications published by Google or they can buy one that is pre-manufactured. They need Cardboard-compatible applications on their phones which is placed into the back of the viewer and then view content through lenses. I will not talk about the little sense of vertigo, and periodical wear and tear of the cardboard that happens after a long time of usage.
- External VR for PC: This is the best VR entertainment experience currently in the markets, with giant players like Sony PlayStation VR and HTC Vive Pro. The technology re-creates a virtual outline of your environment enabling you to see and feel your surroundings without having to remove the HMD. It gives an immersion like no other by delivering ultra-vibrant colours, true-to-life precise tracking precise tracking and uber-realistic sounds that create an environment which teleports you to any scene in real seconds. It offers more immersive gaming experience as compared to simple virtual reality. For you to access this awesome experience you will need to have a high-profile computer and place many sensors, and have a room with big enough space.
- Headset Virtual Reality: This includes Google Daydream View and Samsung Gear VR. This particular viewer uses a smartphone’s screen as a platform for virtual reality scene. Google Daydream View is developed by Google and is built into the Android mobile OS (versions Nougat 7.1 and latest versions) and compatible phones have a logo designated “Daydream Ready”. There are also cheaper models from unpopular makers.
- Standalone VR: These headsets deliver high-quality VR anywhere you want with no cables, phone or PC. It is very easy to use as you just need to pick it and immerse yourself right into virtual reality. It is a new technology that caters for your movement in space without having to set up any external sensors. This particular viewer was picked by Xiaomi for its latest Virtual Reality model:
Xiaomi Mi VR
In January this year during Qualcomm’s press conference at CES, Facebook Vice President of VR Hugo Barra announced a partnership between Qualcomm, Xiaomi and Facebook. He further revealed that Xiaomi was their partner in launching Oculus Go globally. Oculus and Xiaomi jointly introduced Mi VR Standalone which was made specifically for the Chinese market. The viewer is identical to Oculus Go in design only that the ‘Oculus’ logo was replaced with the ‘MI’ logo in the Xiaomi VR. In fact, the only difference between the two devices is merely colour.
To draw a thicker line between its colour from Oculus’, Xiaomi VR picked a white-grey colour scheme with a clear “Mi” logo on the front.
Xiaomi Mi VR comes with a controller which is always white-grey in colour. At the top of the controller is a round part which is the touchpad while at the bottom you find two keys: Home and Back. The front has also the confirm button.
The package also carries charging head, data cable, AA battery for the controller and a rubber frame for spectacles. The material design for Xiaomi VR’s main body is made up of aluminium alloy, white plastic coating, sponge for the part that contacts with human face and fabric that holds it on the back of your head.
Xiaomi virtual reality viewer is designed for ultimate comfort and immersion when you wear it. You don’t even need to remove your glasses as this device has been designed to leave an additional front space that caters for people who wear glasses. The band that holds it around the head is also elastic to maximize on the comfort of the user.
How the controller works
The controller is Xiaomi VR’s accessory. It is small in size, lightweight and so comfortable to hold with your hand. Power limitations and economics however deny it in-built vibration module.
Controller’s main body has two keys: the power button at the top and the volume key is adjacent to it. The “power+ and power-” buttons can be pressed in a combined effort to strike a screenshot.
Additionally the controller has a 3.5mm headphone jack and a micro-USB port both placed on the left side of the device. The VR further supports 360-degree all round sound system, a factor that makes it effective for immersive virtual reality games.
Xiaomi Mi VR: App
Xiaomi App UI allows the user to adapt easily to the way they interact with it as it is totally different from the experience with non-VR gadgets. Xiaomi Mi VR apps generate stereo picture correctly, provide stable tracking, compensate barrel distortion and guarantee stable performance. Xiaomi VR comes with pre-installed apps and an easy navigation menu.
The homepage display is divided into two: The top portion indicates the network signal icons and battery status. The centre has a list of pre-installed software programs. By default, the programs placed in the centre are Video Centre, Android App Store, Multiplayer Cinema, SKYBOX Local Player and a browser that does really amazing in surfing on the internet.
Xiaomi Mi VR device has a storage space of 32/64 GB and a micro-USB port that enables transfer of virtual reality videos that were downloaded on the computer, to the viewer.
The Chinese version of Xiaomi VR has the whole menu and apps optimized for China.
The MIUI VR is widely available in 26 languages, on top of Chinese and English.
Check out how the Stars Wars of the Secrets of Empire VR game looks on screen display:
When watching a movie or a video the scene is automated to switch directly into a movie cinema mode putting you in a position in which you feel as if you were the only spectator. Or alone in the stadium in charge of the scene with your eyes. Imagine how you would feel in the scenario with the current hot highlights of World Cup 2018.
For the one day I used Xiaomi Virtual Reality Viewer I downloaded tons of apps and games. I loved “Horror Nights”, “Bad Dream VR” and of all those the Netflix VR app is all the way up.
There are so many virtual reality apps including Google Street View, VR One Cinema, Titans of Space, InMind VR, Roller Coaster VR among many others. They enhance education, entertainment and adventure. You can easily find content from BBC virtual reality documentaries to CNN’s latest VR news. Xiaomi installed a 2K Fast-Switch display but most of its games have slight disparities in delivering details, which is not such a bad thing in the price range.
The battery capacity for Xiaomi VR is 2600 mAh according to their official website. I started playing Horror Nights when the battery percentage was at 85 and stopped half an hour later when it was still at 57%.
Price and availability
Let’s now check the prices of Virtual Reality Viewers starting with the cheapest:
The most expensive viewers that you can connect externally to your PC include:
Xiaomi VR viewer has the following price segments to offer: